Pardew demands big finish
Published 11/02/2014 | 15:32
Newcastle boss Alan Pardew has challenged his players to provide the foundation for a summer spending spree with a positive finish to the season.
The Magpies currently sit in eighth place in the Barclays Premier League table ahead of Wednesday night's home clash with Tottenham, 10 points clear of Swansea in 10th, but eight adrift of the top six.
European qualification may now be a big ask after a run of seven games which has brought just a single victory, but Pardew is aware he needs a strong conclusion to persuade his bigger names they can fulfil their ambitions on Tyneside and do not follow Yohan Cabaye through the exit, while luring his targets in the transfer window.
The 52-year-old said: "For sure, the only way we are going to do that is to keep our winning strategy.
"At the minute, we are just in the black - we have won more than we have lost - and it's important that we keep that until the end of the season.
"That gives you a foundation for the year after, where we know we have funds available. We have got to just spend it correctly."
Cabaye's big money departure for Paris St Germain during the final week of the January transfer window, and the club's subsequent failure to replace him, ripped a gaping hole in the heart of Pardew's team, and the timing could hardly have been worse.
Loic Remy's suspension - he will complete his three-match ban with the Spurs game - and injuries to Fabricio Coloccini, Mathieu Debuchy, Cheick Tiote, Gabriel Obertan, Gael Bigirimana, Yoan Gouffran and Papiss Cisse have once again exposed the relative lack of depth in the squad.
Indeed, Pardew was forced to field full-back Davide Santon in central midfield and include academy striker Adam Armstrong, who turned 17 on Monday, among the substitutes at Chelsea on Saturday.
Cisse, who aggravated a back problem during a warm-weather training camp in Abu Dhabi last month, is at least close to a return, and he has been left in little doubt as to what is required of him during the next three months or so.
The Senegal international, who scored 13 goals in his first 14 appearances for the club following his arrival in January 2012, has slipped behind loan signing Remy in the pecking order, and having been repeatedly linked with a move away from St James', is approaching a crossroads.
Pardew said: "He needs to have a big second half of the season for the summer.
"We are going to have to make a decision with Papiss: whether he is going to stay at this club and be a big player for us like he was two years ago and last year to a degree, or whether it's going to be pastures new."
Meanwhile, Tottenham head coach Tim Sherwood believes his side could lose up to five of their remaining Barclays Premier League fixtures and still qualify for next season's Champions League.
Spurs currently sit fifth in the table following their 1-0 win over fellow top-four hopefuls Everton on Sunday, with just a three-point gap up to Liverpool, who currently occupy that much-coveted fourth spot.
Sherwood has lost just one of his nine league fixtures since replacing Andre Villas-Boas as manager at White Hart Lane, albeit a 5-1 mauling at the hands of Manchester City, but feels he could afford to see his side lose several more games in the run-in.
"I haven't looked at it, maths isn't my strong point but I would say we can only possibly afford to lose four or five games maybe of what we have got left," he said.
"That would be a huge tally."
When asked if nine wins from their remaining 13 games would be enough, Sherwood replied: "It could well be, no one is dropping points are they. Someone could drop a couple but big rivals like Liverpool are flying and we need them to trip up, that is for sure.
"We're looking upwards rather than behind us but we know it will be tough and there are teams behind us capable of putting a run together and sneaking fourth," he said.
"It will go to the wire. I don't think anything will be secured until the last month of the season. I would say Newcastle have to consider themselves in it and possibly Southampton, Manchester United for sure.
"Our target is fourth place and it always has been, if we can get higher than that then great but it is the target we are looking for."
Sherwood has no fresh injury concerns for the trip.
Sandro (calf) and Vlad Chriches (back) remain sidelined and Sherwood also confirmed Erik Lamela has suffered a setback in his recovery from a thigh strain and will also be missing.
Andros Townsend will be pushing for a start after returning from the bench in the win against Everton following a lay-off with a hamstring injury.